There was a time Lincoln Bee had it all.
Young, healthy, married to Tina Monroe, the woman of his dreams, a great career with an unlimited future. Then an unthinkable event throws Lincoln’s meticulous life into disarray, and his days go from feast to famine.
Now, almost five decades later, having no family and no spouse, Lincoln yearns to find a purpose again. But without any friends and desperate for that elusive resolve, he turns to his estranged ex-wife, Tina… praying she’ll be his guiding light.
Unknown to Lincoln, Tina Monroe is struggling with issues of her own; a severe health challenge, a strained relationship with her daughter, and a deep secret which could rattle the foundations of all of their lives.
With her illness looking to be terminal, Tina encourages Lincoln to write her a single letter once a month in the hopes his own words can get him to come to terms with the demons of his past. But during this process, Lincoln learns Tina’s secret which threatens to unravel him further.
The Letters from Lincoln Bee inspires readers to tap into their own inner warrior and do battle with the greatest demon threatening them daily – themselves.
If you’ve read any of my previous book reviews, you know that my favorite stories are ones that have an effect on my perspective. Among the books that yield the power to change the mind is Chase’s novel The Letters from Lincoln Bee. Not only did this book offer a better perspective on life, but it inspired me to love with childlike abandon again.
Kung Fu Analogies
Chase compares kung fu lessons to life in many eye-opening ways. Among my favorites were these gems:
- Horse Stance: Comparing the kung fu technique called the Horse Stance to a failed marriage was a genius way to show the three perspectives involved in the disastrous relationship: “Much like our divorce, there are three sides to every failed relationship—your side, my side, and the truth.” (page 78)
- “So I guess love should be defined as finding the perfect sparring partner, because with that partner, there is only one thing you can do, and that’s improve.” (page 179)
So many philosophies taught by his Sifu (teacher) challenged the main character, Lincoln, to improve his life by obtaining control, accepting the past, and seeing the future in a positive light rather than allowing the negative to commandeer the ride. Another one of my favorites was when Chase described EGO:
- “That feeling of accomplishment is like a new ingredient in the stew that makes up the individual, and if the ingredient isn’t added in the proper ration, it can spoil the meal.” (page 120-121)
- “It was like a brush fire, unpredictable, uncontrollable, and dangerous to everyone around it.” (page 121)
Character development is vital to every story, but to have your characters blossom is a brand new experience that Chase introduced me to. To be able to take an ordinary human being struggling as we all are with the battle against ourselves, and to water them with flashback philosophies, exposing their flaws and weaknesses through these letters, and to have that epiphany of understanding, to have finally reached the understanding of life itself…that’s just great writing.
For example, when Lincoln is speaking of his mother who left him when he was little, he said: “Could her cruelty actually have been an act of kindness?” (page 152). This says so much about the mental and emotional maturity of this character. That he is seeing beyond his initial emotional pain of his mother leaving and is able to contemplate her perspective on the manner. That is the type of growth you’ll find in this book.
I think one of the most unappealing features of books with moral lessons and human development is the preaching element. How the author will force unspoken personal/biased beliefs on readers, or will challenge mainstream ideas, and it leaves the readers debating with the characters and detached from the plot.
Letters from Lincoln Bee does not preach. This story isn’t about you or me or the social world out there. This is about love. This is about living. About forgiveness. About maturing your mind, and grasping the reality that as Chase wrote on page 9: “We don’t run out of second chances…we only run out of time.”
So you don’t have to worry about Chase forcing his beliefs on you while you read because this story doesn’t come at you directly. It is the interwoven healing of a man and woman through letters written to expose the raw fixable flaws of their personalities.
“Tina admitted, she needed to read these letters just as much as Lincoln needed to write them.” (page 115)
The way you fall for these characters (Lincoln, Tina and Vicki) makes every surprise Chase has in store for them emotionally engaging. No longer are you spectating these people in progress, you’re relating to their problems, you’re connected to their journey, you feel what they feel whether it be fear, pain, victory, or heartbreak. I’m normally too tough for tears when it comes to movies/books about this type of personal healing, but I’m not even ashamed to admit I cried at the end of this story. Chase wrapped everything in a realistically satisfying bow. Not the ending I would have chosen, but the ending that was needed.
Usually this is the part of the review where I criticize what didn’t work in the book, but I have nothing for this one. Some people disliked the book was written without dialogue, but the narrative storytelling kept the progression in motion, it kept the mood of the story alive. There was absolutely nothing negative to say about this novel.
This is one of those books you were forced to read in your high school literature class because its concepts and written technique were the most quality of all written pieces in time. The only difference between Lincoln Bee and those other books was that you enjoyed this one!